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Italy’s National Institute of Health (ISS) has uncovered a surge in cases of the Hepatitis A virus (HAV) among the country’s gay male population, with cases increasing over the last seven months. Hepatitis A is a virus, or infection, that causes liver disease and inflammation of the liver. It resolves in most patients in a few weeks without treatment, though doctors may prescribe medications to reduce symptoms.
Between August 2016 and February 2017, 583 cases were reported, 85% of them in men. That’s an increase of almost five times compared to the same period in the previous year.
Table: Monthly declared cases of Hepatitis A in Italy from January 2012 to Feb. 2017
Italy’s National Institute of Health looks to Amsterdam’s Europride.
The working theory of the ISS is that Europride, an event held in Amsterdam last August that drew a crowd of half a million guys from throughout Europe, resulted in an amplification of Hepatitis A diagnoses through February.
“It is therefore evident,” says the ISS, “the need to emphasize that vaccination is strongly recommended for men who have sex with men.” Italy’s National Institute of Health is therefore encouraging the promotion and offering of free vaccination against Hepatitis A and B by public health orgs.
Educate yourself, and get vaccinated.
The Hepatitis A Virus is transmitted most commonly via certain sexual practices, most notably anilingus (rimming). Symptoms of Hepatitis include those of any virus — flu-like symptoms, stomach discomfort, fever, decreased appetite, diarrhea.
The vaccine is very effective against the Hepatitis A virus, with antibodies to the virus appearing in 98 to 100% of cases after the first dose. Hepatitis A protection is effective about two weeks after vaccination and is likely to last a lifetime if vaccination has been completed. (It consists of two doses.)
Vaccination programs in various countries — including Israel, Spain, Argentina and the United States — have reduced the number of cases of hepatitis A by 90%.
For more info on Hepatitis head here, or contact your physician.